Re: viruses? (wild speculation about STDs)

From: Dana Hedberg (
Date: Tue Jan 25 2000 - 10:54:48 MST

Zeb Haradon wrote:
> From: Eugene Leitl <>
> >
> >Some of the viruses are probably beneficial, at least on the long run
> >(coevolution boosts fitness).
> On a related point, I was speculating recently on the possible evolution of
> a sexually transmitted disease which boosts the libido and vitality of
> infected individuals. This would make much more sense then the current
> strains, which harm sexual success of the victim by covering the afflicted
> area with unsightly and painful sores, thus limiting their own infection
> success. It would seem that an STD which resulted in higher sex drive and
> which someone made the infected individual better looking would be an
> incredibly successful STD. I then started to wonder if this has perhaps
> already happened, and the virus is now just considered a part of normal
> human biology, or perhaps incorporated into the genome.

I wonder if our own genetic "defenses" are the reason behind the
phenotypic response of infection. DNA provides for the showing of
infection by nastiness so that the species as a whole is alerted to a
less than healthful state. This in turn leads to an infected person
being shunned as a possible procreation partner. Aspects of our genetic
heritage have provided for a mechanism that helps weed out possible

Although, phenotypic responses to HIV (a virus that appears to be more
recent than something like gonorrhea) often don't occur until many
months to years after infection. This would be more than enough time to
infect others that don't have the benefit of perceiving your less than
healthy state. Similarly, some of the herpes viruses have dormant
periods where they are not phenotypically visible. I would say, by and
large, we are seeing some adaptations on the part of more recent viruses
to avoid detection so that they will be transmitted to another food


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